This Little Underground 

A moment of silence for Garage Days, please. Despite earning a following and graduating beyond a stopgap to plug the summer concert lulls, the semi-regular Monday-night series in the Social's back room has come to an abrupt and somewhat mysterious end. Too bad, because summer is coming back around soon and Garage Days was a refreshing, often well-curated showcase for more extreme music and a creative reconfiguration of the venerable club.

Though it's the end of a short-but-notable era, at least it went out with a bang (March 29). With the exception of Aella, whose hybridized metal featuring sandblast roars and Rage Against the Machine grooves was just awkwardly self-defeating, it was a strong local lineup. The promising Swamplord already shows improvement with more cohesion and assured vocals, though lead singer Heidi Kneisl needs to lock into the band's rhythm more.

But local metal butchers Six Dead Horses, who were celebrating their CD release, made it all worthwhile. They played the inaugural Garage Days and now they played its swansong. And between those two milestones, they've come a long way as a band. Though they were decent before, the promise I previously saw is now fully delivered. All pistons are firing on this wrecking machine and it cranks out bluesy waves of sludge and doom with gaping authority. Count them now as one of the area heavyweights.

The beat

Bookending an interesting free show (March 30, Bar-BQ-Bar) was the experimental and psychedelic dance music of Boston's Truman Peyote, and local electronic act Dark Sea of Awareness, whose thoughtful patterns form a soundtrack for celestial bodies.

In the middle was local Emily Reo, who's been garnering some significant blog buzz for herself lately, thanks in part to her cover of Built to Spill's "Car." The aura of her music is delivered in evocative sonic layers and droning undercurrents. It's a style that's definitely de rigueur and current in indie circles right now, but there's some sublime melodic craft under all that texturizing and you have to be judicious in determining how much to obscure such a big virtue for the sake of style. Regardless, Reo's brand of lo-fi atmospherics glimmers with taste, intellect and allure. She could possibly be Orlando's next underground sensation.

The caffeinated Brit-rock of Arctic Monkeys (April 3, Hard Rock Live) has recently taken a more sonorous and melodically considered turn, and honestly, I prefer them this way because you can only do rock aerobics so much before it taxes the nerves. Live, this unfurled and theatrical sound showed depth and character like a fine red wine. Good to see that the reigning princes of British pop are showing an ability to mature well. Speaking of English rock royalty, I encountered none other than Liam Gallagher there in the Lennon Room.

I've seen the loop-and-layer technique used by many — from collegiate hippie Keller Williams to resourceful local folkie Chris Burns — but seldom have I seen it done with a real aesthetic. But that changed with L.A.'s El Ten Eleven (April 3, Will's Pub). Besides using the device with precision and dexterity, sometimes simultaneously playing the bass and guitar on a double neck with two different hands, Kristian Dunn carved out lively, crystalline post-rock. Add drummer Tim Fogarty to the mix and you have a duo that handles the duty of at least twice as many players, all with enough gimmick for the masses and substance for the connoisseurs.

The joke of my April Fools' Day was local band Shut Up and Dance (Back Booth). Unless you order off the kid's menu at restaurants, a band with a name like that should shoot up red flags like a motherfucker. Their music personifies an adolescent's blend of blind conviction and abject cluelessness, which means no one old enough to drive themselves to the concert has any business liking this band. They're no Blood on the Dance Floor in terms of sheer awfulness, but there's enough to condemn them anyway. There are many wrong turns you can take with dance-rock and this group takes all of them like dumb teens on a joyride with a sound that resembles a messy make-out between Cori Yarckin and Family Force 5.

But being dumb isn't necessarily a crime in itself. No, what makes their particular brand of dumbness contemptible is that it's transparently driven by empty commercial aspiration. This soulless product mindset is why the record industry is dying.


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